Jerry Rice, the San Francisco 49ers great and Hall of Fame electee, will play in the Nationwide Tour event he is hosting next month. No, he's not going to be just in the pro-am, as Bob Hope did at his tournament for all those years. Rice will be in the field with the pros.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

         He has been given a sponsor's exemption into the Fresh Express Classic at TPC Stonebrae, an official Nationwide Tour event beginning Thursday, April 15. As you know, the Nationwide Tour is part of the PGA Tour umbrella and is effectively the Triple A circuit for the big tour.

                “I have tremendous respect for professional golfers and an appreciation of the Nationwide Tour,” Rice said in a statement released by the Tour.  “I am excited for the opportunity to play in the tournament and experience that level of competition.”